Often chiropractors’ patients suffer from pain and physical discomforts. Chiropractic treatment can often provide some immediate relief. But the enduring relief may not be obtained because many aches are pervasive, rooted in both, physical and emotional domains. To solidify the gain from the treatment and to obtain a lasting pain free state, one may need the help of a psychologist. Psychologists can offer strategies and behavioral tools to enhance effective behaviors to cope with pain, fostering a more enduring change and increasing the gains received from chiropractic services.
Coping can be defined as learning and improving cognitive and behavioral strategies available to a person to deal with internal and external stressors. People may chose to deal with their experience of physical and emotional pain in a number of ways. Passive coping strategies involve giving responsibility for pain and suffering to outside sources, minimize action and a sense of personal responsibility. People may restrict or cancel social activities, stop working, focus on the source and experience of the pain, ruminate and complain, thus remaining in a state of negativity and maintaining their hopeless and helpless stance.
Surprisingly, many of these patients attend their medical appointments responsibly. The failure occurs when they avoid following through on recommendations and treatments. Such patients may report their symptoms during their appointments, receive in-office procedures, ask for more of or change in medications, but avoid executing their physicians’ recommendations after the visit. They don’t pursue their medical script timely and as prescribed, fail to exercise and make appropriate dietary, social and life style adjustments. The impact of treatments is diminished. These patients don’t fully achieve or sustain the benefit of chiropractic or any other medical treatments they pursue. They rarely find any lasting relief and become increasingly more disheartened and disabled.
Active coping strategies require patients to take responsibility for pain management and be pro-active in their approach. They involve attempts to control pain and suffering by being physically and mentally engaged despite the disability. Examples of active strategies are physical exercise, proper diet and use of vitamins and select supplements, staying busy and socially engaged, reframing bothersome thoughts and distraction from pain through meditation and cognitive modification. These are the tools that people can learn with the help of a mental health care provider, who helps define and treat the underlying issues and offers support and guidance in the process of change and healing.
How can someone who is engaged in counseling but never used chiropractic and massage care benefit from these additional services? As an example, anxiety and depression are very common conditions associated with poor quality of life and health, and worsening of a chronic illness. Mental health disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events. Depression and anxiety are among the most common in this country.
According to the recent estimates from the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, which is 18% of U.S. population. Anxiety is highly treatable, yet only about one-third of affected receive treatment. Anxiety disorders cost the U.S. more than $42 billion a year, almost one-third of the country's $148 billion total mental health bill, according to "The Economic Burden of Anxiety Disorders," a study commissioned by ADAA (The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 60(7), July 1999). More than $22.84 billion of those costs are associated with the repeated use of health care services, as anxiety ridden people seek relief for emotionally rooted symptoms that mimic physical illnesses. People with an anxiety disorder are 3-5 times more likely to go to the doctor and 6 times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than those who do not suffer from such issues.
Major depression is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15 to 44. It affects annually nearly 15 million American adults, or about 7 percent of the U.S. adult population. Commonly, someone with an anxiety disorder also suffers from depression or vice versa. Nearly half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
People affected by such mental health illnesses are often overly concerned about health issues, money, family problems or difficulties on the job. They have negative, fearful thoughts about the future and suffer excessive guilt about the past. These concerns can last for months and years, gradually chipping away from emotional and physical wellness. Associated physical symptoms include muscle tension and aches, fatigue, headaches, difficulty swallowing, twitching, irritability, sweating, nausea, lightheadedness, frequent urination, gastrointestinal problems, hot flashes and shortness of breath, sexual problems, as just some examples. Pervasive worrying, rumination and negativity commonly lead to chronically elevated levels of cortisol, as the brain continuously signals the sense of danger and discomfort. In response, bodies become rigid and tense, making relaxation and rest difficult. High levels of mental and emotional discomfort and impaired immune system functioning create a pervasive negative feedback loop in the mind-body connection that leads to illnesses and unhappiness.
Given the intensity of their discomfort, people in counseling may attempt to speed up their recovery through the use of pharmaceuticals. Chiropractic adjustments and therapeutic massage are powerful holistic alternatives, given their rapid ability to help to reduce the symptoms of bodily stiffness and tension. Such treatments may help to accelerate healing, becoming effective supplementary tools to the process of counseling. Various forms of therapeutic tissue manipulation have been practiced for thousands of years to treat stressful mental conditions and anxieties of various sorts. These procedures can help in reducing anxiety and stress, promote relaxation and alleviate pain. As a result, patients feel more at ease and better prepared to receive and benefit from psychological counseling.
Massage therapy and chiropractic aid can help to cleanse the body of impurities by breaking down built up toxins or waste in muscles, which often has a calming effect on anxious and excessively stressed out patients. The process of receiving such procedures can be healing in and of itself, helping to relax and soothe aches and pains throughout your body. During adjustments and massages one is generally feeling more relaxed, less negative and in a clearer state of mind. These are some examples of the applications of health psychology, which promotes the healing of the body as well as of the mind. The alliance of mental health professionals and chiropractors can provide a more complete, effective, holistically based, lasting relief to people suffering from emotional and physical ailments.